I haven’t posted in a long time. Since my last post, I moved from Bombay to Berlin.
On my second or third weekend here, I was walking down Torstrasse, looking around. I noticed a space that looked a bit like a freshly painted warehouse, with a soaring ceiling, some racks of clothing and a selection of shoes. I wandered in and looked around, and I started talking to the man working there. His name was Stephan (with a ‘ph’, he told me). The store (No.74) was a ‘guerilla’ (aka temporary aka pop-up) boutique from Y-3 and Adidas, recently opened and part of the new retail trend that has descended on many Western urban centers, especially Berlin. The idea that something won’t be around for very long is intended to make it more interesting, although I’m not sure why. Maybe to encourage us to make sure we appreciate the $300 sneakers while we have the chance.
Anyway, the space was pleasant to look at, and the merchandise attractive – mostly I was interested in the way this sort of high-style outpost changed my perception of the neighborhood. This stretch of Mitte feels far away in sensibility from the high-street plasticity of Neue Schonhauser Strasse, closer to my idea of East Berlin, more clunky and down-to-earth.
Stephan was interesting too. Over the next couple of weeks I ended up passing by the store fairly often (any time I want to print anything I have to walk over to an internet cafe up the street) and sometimes he’d be working and I would stop to say hello. He’s part of the experience I’ve had so far of Berlin that makes me feel like it’s a special place. In NY, I don’t think I’d have the chance to meet someone like him under the same circumstances. Either I’d be in a rush and stressed out, or he would have been irritated by all the annoying customers who kept streaming in. But in Berlin, even in the middle of summer, there aren’t that many customers on Torstrasse (though I can’t guarantee that those who are around are not annoying) and when I’m walking around, I’m never in a rush or stressed out. So the conditions are more favorable for connecting with a stranger, whereas in NY you’d be more likely to want them to get out of your way.
I decided I wanted to write about him. I had no idea what he did, but he interested me and I had a feeling it would make a good read. It turns out that he’s the guitarist in a Berlin-based band that’s fairly well-known, The Aim of Design is to Define Space. http://www.myspace.com/aimofdesign
Here’s some basic info about him:
Name: Stephan “Schulzky” Szulzewsky
Birthday: Dec 9th, 1975
Born: In Frankfurt Oder
What do you do?: Sell sneakers
What else?: I’m in a band. We play German progressive pop.
Where do you want to live in 5 years?: Mulholland Drive
Why?: I’d like to try and buy Marlon Brando’s house from Jack Nicholson
Favorite drink?: The Louis, a champagne cocktail at Thousand (a design bar in Berlin)
Do you have a car?: I used to.. a Mercedes of course. A 270 D from 1979.
Do you have siblings?: 1 brother and 2 sisters. 1 sister is in South America, 1 is in Cologne and my brother is studying biotechnology in Dubai.
Where do you live?: Mitte
What’s your favorite food?: Rice crackers with chocolate
I went home and looked up his band’s myspace page. I liked it a lot, though at first it was a bit odd not to understand the lyrics. It made me realize again how important words are to me, and gave me a bit more of an incentive to begin to learn at least a little German. Of all their albums, the newest is my favorite by far. Even though I don’t understand the words, it sounds like it takes an epic approach to melancholy and longing. Watch, the lyrics are probably about nothing of the sort. Well that’s what I want to think at least, and until I learn German (which will be a long time) there’s no one to disabuse me of the notion.
If you’re interested in hearing his music or checking out more of his site, please visit: aimofdesign.de